By MIKE SMITH
It hasn’t been the easiest summer for the Total KAOS 16U squad, but as the team heads down to the USSSA National Championships on July 26, it would appear they’re getting hot–and healthy–at the right time.
On July 20, the Harrison-based KAOS squad won three games in one day to win the national qualifier tournament in Saugerties, N.Y., to stamp its ticket to the championships in Ocean City, Md., next week.
Harrison standout Taylor Day pitched twice on Sunday, including in the clincher against the Hudson Valley LadyHawks, while her high school teammate Christina DeCarlo threw a season-high 6.2 innings to pick up a win in the team’s second contest of the day.
This summer, the KAOS squad has been racked by
injuries, including one to DeCarlo, which have forced head coach Dean Marino to rely on Day and second baseman Tori Rivera to shoulder the load in the circle.
“Without those two girls, with the injuries we had, I don’t know if we could even field a team this summer,” Marino said. “At this level, when you don’t have the pitching and you get to those Sundays where you have to win three games, it makes it tough.”
Day, who battled injuries during the high school season, has been a revelation, the head coach said.
“She’s been phenomenal,” Marino said. “After the high school season, I told her to reach that next level, she’d need to develop an out pitch, and she has. She’s been throwing a drop curve and when it’s right, it’s a very tough pitch to hit.”
Offensively, the squad has been led by catcher Nery Mendez, who hit .526 in the tournament; Eastchester’s Mikayla DiNapolo, who hit .471, and Harrison shortstop Dominique Loguidice, who hit .444. New Rochelle first baseman, Alexis Galluzo, hit .278.
On July 27, the team will fly down to nationals, where it begins play the following day.
According to Marino, the luck of the draw will be almost as important as the team’s health heading in. Last year, Total KAOS dropped its first four games in pool play before winning seven straight to reach the final 15.
“The top teams down there are very hard to beat,” he said. “The key is you have to play well in the knockout round.”
Marino is confident the early summer struggles with injury should only help Total KAOS in the national tourney. Those early setbacks, he said, have only served to make the team stronger if they are at
“This team is scrappy and is not afraid of losing,” he said. “There’s a great demeanor, great camaraderie on this team and we’ve got 12 girls who are like captains out there.”